Friday, 30 October 2009

The inquiry at Ealing Abbey

Following the sexual crimes of Fr David Pearce, Abbot Shipperlee has written in a letter to all parents at St Benedict's School

I am instructing an independent review into this matter to examine what there is to be learned in order to ensure that there can never be a recurrence of this situation.

I hope in due course to find out more about this review, about who will be conducting it, what its scope and terms of reference will be, who it will report to, and whether its report will be made public. I don't even know whether the inquiry has started its work yet.

From the comments that have been posted on my previous articles on this subject, it is quite obvious that there much more has been going on that is covered by the 5 victims of Fr Pearce who were the subject of the criminal charges against him.

I suspect that there are many of you out there who have suffered abuse and do not feel able to describe any kinds of details of them in a public forum such as the comments on this blog. I think it is appropriate that you should have an opportunity to recount your experiences and for them to form a part of the evidence to this inquiry.

If you wish to contact me by email, I will do all in my power to see that your experiences are placed before the inquiry. Include "Fr Pearce" or "David Pearce" in the subject line, so I can quickly and easily identify messages on the subject.

I promise that anything you write to me by email will be kept entirely confidential, except in as far as you authorise me to communicate it to anybody else apart from those conducting the inquiry. In particular, I shall not use any of your emails as material for this blog unless you specifically tell me I can. I just want to ensure that any evidence that the inquiry should be aware of is made available to them. I take the view that a review of procedures at the Abbey and the school can't be adequate unless it is carried out will the fullest possible knowledge of the failures that have occurred in the past. And that knowledge requires that as many victims as possible come forward to describe their experiences.

I don't expect that any evidence would result in further charges against Fr Pearce. As I understand it, the police have closed their file on him as a result of their successful prosecution. But even if the evidence you provide does not result in prosecutions against Fr Pearce or anybody else, I still think the inquiry needs to hear it. I suspect that there has been as assumption in the past that if the evidence is not sufficient for a criminal prosecution, then no other action should be taken. If so, then that needs to change - the safety and welfare of the children in the school's care should be the higher priority, and that requires that action to protect a child should be taken even in cases where the evidence is insufficient for criminal prosecutions.

It looks as if some reviewing has already been carried out internally, there are new documents on the Information for Parents page of the St Benedict's School website.

1 comment:

  1. I am an ex parent of st benedicts - I removed both my sons from the school in July this year. It is not just the dreadful sexual abuse that needs to be inspected and looked at at this school but the fact that the headmaster will protect all his staff regardless of their errors. The schools attitde is arrogant and has little regard for their pupils and is far from caring . My youngest who has a sever learning disability fell foul of bad judgement and a grave error and his grades suffered Mr Cleughs insisted that his teachers view was correct. After an independent assessment proving sever learning disabilities I had to battle with the school who insisted that their so called expert teacher was right and to get them to recognise a report from someone infinitely better qualified than any member of staff they employed. My sons GCSE grades suffered terribly and although I went through the whole complaints procedure I couldn't win as it was refusal to accept error from everyone at the school. I informed Durrell of the situation but I doubt he will do anything. I was advised by a lawyer that if my case went to tribunal Id win but I did not have enough money to do so - recently I wrote to Lord Carllile who was deeply concerned and advised legal action against the school. Yet I do not have the money to do so. At the root of this school is a desire to protect themselves and their staff. My own opinion is that they do not have their pupils best interests at heart.